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’I’m a work in progress': Pamela Anderson on restoring her B.C. home and herself

B.C.-born actress Pamela Anderson is starring in a new reality show about overhauling the six-acre Vancouver Island property where she spent her earliest years.

B.C.-born actress Pamela Anderson is starring in a new reality show about overhauling the six-acre Vancouver Island property where she spent her earliest years.

Photo: Getty Images / ERWIN SCHERIAU / AFP

RCI

The model, actress and environmental activist's project is the focus of a new reality show

Model, actress and environmental crusader Pamela Anderson is on a mission of rehabilitation.

Reached at her home in Ladysmith, B.C., she says the goal at hand is to overhaul the six-acre Vancouver Island property where she spent her earliest years and now hopes to establish as a multi-generational haven for herself, her parents and her sons.

It's the focus of her new HGTV Canada reality show, Pamela's Garden of Eden, which premiered Thursday.

At the same time, the Hollywood star says she's been hit with a burst of introspection: while on the property, she wrote a memoir due for release at the end of January, and she is preparing to release a Netflix documentary about her life.

Anderson starred as lifeguard C.J. Parker on the action drama series Baywatch in the 1990s. (Calgary Expo)

Anderson starred as lifeguard C.J. Parker on the action drama series Baywatch in the 1990s.

Photo: (Calgary Expo)

As much as the large-scale home renovation is a work in progress, "I'm a work in progress,'' says Anderson.

"Coming back here was really triggering. For me, it's very emotional,'' Anderson says of revisiting roots to a childhood she's described as difficult.

"When I came home, I think I was not as happy as I normally am. I came home to really face some things. There's certain things in your life that you just kind of push aside, and it was just so healing for me to come home, and it took me a while to kind of grasp what I was putting myself through.''

From Hollywood to home again

Further details about her early life and colourful celebrity career will be revealed in the upcoming memoir and streaming project, she assures, acknowledging that the recent reset to small-town life is worlds away from the tabloid-grabbing exploits of her '90s heyday.

"I'd never been on a plane before when I left this island. You know, I left the island, and I went to Vancouver, and then I moved to L.A., and then I went around the world and south of France for a year before I moved home,'' says Anderson, who first rocketed to fame as a Playboy pin-up and Baywatch TV star.

"I was restless when I was here. And I had to learn how to be comfortable, just relaxing and enjoying and putting all my creative juices into this project, making this an art project, listening to other people's ideas.''

Anderson says she bought the property about 30 years ago from her grandmother, believing she "just needed some Canadian roots'' and that she would move there one day.

It would take longer than expected, she suggests in a first episode that briefly alludes to years of an "overwhelmed'' life in Los Angeles, a busy career and multiple high-profile marriages.

She says it was "gut-wrenching'' at first to return to the sprawling waterfront property, which includes three buildings known as the roadhouse, the boathouse and the cabin.

"I felt like this place was like a broken heart, which I really had to kind of turn around.''

Living that island life

These days, Anderson says she relishes the new creative chores that occupy her time — painting, repainting, pottery and vegetable canning among them — while discovering her personal design style.

She acknowledges a lot of trial and error —and possibly conflict — over the design choices, chuckling over the folly of inviting cameras to watch her "melting down over which doorknob to put on your door.''

"I'm not perfect. Some ideas are really bad, and some ideas don't work, and some things I've refinished and fixed, and I waste a lot of money in solving those problems,'' says the 55-year-old, who began the venture with a $750,000 budget.

The crew, too, is a collection of "misfits,'' she adds.

"I wanted guys [for whom] this is their second or third chance in life. I wanted to bring people here that weren't, you know, perfect people. I wanted everyone to kind of have a fun project to do as a kind of healing place.''

She introduces one of them in the first episode as her husband, revealing little about their courtship other than that he's "a normal guy, which is nice.''

Anderson declines to say more by phone, and a spokesperson for HGTV Canada later says the couple filed for separation in January 2022.

A family affair

The show gives us a window into Anderson's goofy side as she wisecracks with the crew and her well-established love of nature as she discusses the local wildlife and walks barefoot on the beach in loose, flowing dresses.

It's a far cry from the big-coiffed, bombshell version of Anderson that made her a beauty icon, and she agrees. But it's genuine, she adds and is in part an overture to her two adult sons, who urged her to do the show because they saw a disconnect between her public persona and the woman they know.

"My sons were (like), ''Mum, people don't understand who you are,''' she says of Brandon Lee, a producer on the series, and Dylan Lee.

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson in 1999 in Los Angeles.

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson in 1999 in Los Angeles.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / LUCY NICHOLSON

"That doesn't really bother me — I am me. But it bothers them.''

Anderson is happy to say her sons are spending "more and more'' time at the property as the renovation comes together, and she boasts of personal triumphs, including a 460-square-metre garden bursting with produce.

The "heart and soul of the property'' is a rose garden featuring Anderson's favourite hot pink variety.

"I had them in all my flower arrangements all around the world. Wherever I was, whoever I was with, always knew this was my rose,'' says Anderson.

Pamela's Garden of Eden airs Thursdays on HGTV Canada and streams Fridays on StackTV.

Cassandra Szlarski (new window) · The Canadian Press ·

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